We woke up to the sounds of Howler Monkeys on our second day. It was early, 5:20 to be exact. As we researched our trip, we discovered that Costa Rica is an early morning country, the best way to see the country is by getting up with the sun because its one of the only times the animals are active. After realizing the howls weren’t letting up we jumped out of bed, grabbed our cell phones and ran into the dry jungle. We were hoping to get a better glimpse of the wildlife in their natural habitat, and sure enough we did. The howler monkeys were right above us and we could see the outline of their dark hairy bodies as they climbed from limb to limb. We were able to capture some amazing footage and awesome sounds. We stood and watched their activity until the howls became frightening.
After about a half hour of taking pictures it was time to start our journey. We came, we saw, and we conquered the Howler Monkey photos that is. Now it was time to check out, with no breakfast as usual just fruit, water and PowerAde to hold us over, but we were ready. This time we hit the road it was different because we were armed with the right directions. Rio Celeste is located in the Tenorio National Park, this park was an hour away or so we thought. The drive to the Tenorio National Park from where we were in Canas was a drive through the farmlands of the country. This was our first time understanding the road situation in Costa Rica…THERE ISN’T ANY, and to make things worst we were driving a mid-sized vehicle through major pot holes and loose gravel. The entire ride consisted of clutched hands and fist as we tensed up more and more with every bump we hit.
Feeling it was time for a break off the rough roads we stopped at a local shop for some bug spray, bug spray was a necessity going into the rain-forest. After grabbing a couple of things to snack on we jumped in the car and hit the road again. It didn’t take long after leaving the store when we realized we were lost again. However, what we did realize was there are at least 5 different ways to get to one entrance and what Google maps didn’t tell us was that some of the dirt roads were only accessible with a 4×4 vehicle, oh but we found out…quick.
You will never understand the fear and anxiety of driving a Nissan Altima through 4×4 terrains to include the rain as well as driving up the side of mountains. All we kept saying was, “Please don’t break down in the middle of the jungle”. We apologized to the poor little car so many times and also thanked it for making it through. Never again will we be caught in Costa Rica without a 4×4 vehicle. As we came across signs directing cars to Rio Celeste we knew we were getting closer and it was such a relief to get out the car and to know that we were not lost, this by far had to be one of the best moments of the morning!
We finally arrived at Parque National Volcano Tenorio, we pulled into the parking lot where we noticed two Ticos directing cars. As we got out of the car we were met by a lady selling ponchos and rain boots. We decided to buy the $5 ponchos. We passed on the boots because we came equipped with our extremely comfortable Nike trail runners. The admission price was about $10 each and we were told it would be a 90 minute hike up to the waterfalls and another 90 minute hike back in the luscious rain forest. Once inside it was amazing, words cannot describe the feelings we were experiencing, we were finally there!!
The further we walked into the rain forest the darker it got and the humidity rose. The paved pathway in the beginning was comfortable yet deceiving. it was only paved for about 20 minutes into the hike then we found ourselves walking on a broken path of crumbled bricks. We skipped the tour guide because we didn’t want to pay for someone to walk us through; we wanted privacy and also wanted to go at our own pace. We arrived at 10 am, before the heavy rain arrived. While inside the rain forest we did not see any wildlife, remember we opted to bypass the guide whose job it is to point out wildlife… Oh well. We really wanted to get to Rio Celeste Waterfall. The rain forest was extremely thick and full of green life; at one point we could hear the rain above our heads but when we looked up all we saw was a fine mist of water. The rain forest canopy is so thick that the rain did not penetrate through.
As we got closer and closer to Rio Celeste Waterfall, we could hear the river and waterfall crashing against the rocks then finally the break we were looking for, the path and sign to the Rio Celeste Waterfall. The Waterfall was just as impressive as we read about; it really gives you the majestic feeling of being in a fairy tale. Although we had seen waterfalls before there was none like this. It seemed so surreal. We planned and tried to get here for two days and finally we made it, not to mention our months of research and planning our emotions were running high, we did it, we finally made it to something and we we’re not lost! We had never backpacked before, and our first backpacking hike was memorable and awesome. After we took pictures from above we walked down the path to get a closer look and it was breathtaking from every angle.
Now it was time for the hard part, we had to climb the stairs back up to the top! Wow, did that hurt! We stopped so many times on the way up it was ridiculous, we were burned out, huffing and puffing and drinking lots of water. It seemed as if the stairs never ended. What really made it hard was that the steps were extremely steep and our legs were in pain. Although absolutely beautiful that hike is not for the weak at heart. Once back at the top we still had 3 more areas to view at Tenorio National Park. We started our hike to the second attraction and it was about half a mile up the rain-forest Mountain. This had to have been the worst part of the hike, we went straight up and this time the ground was nothing more than mud, tree roots and logs and those nice new Nike shoes were now a muddy mess.
Although we didn’t fall we had some close calls, thanks to our GoPro we were able to capture some great footage. We eventually made it back 3 hours later and needless to say we were starving. We finally saw the exit and daylight at last. We walked right out of the park, skipped the parking lot and walked across the street for some “comida tipica”, which means “typical food” in Spanish. We split a $12 meal, which is another way to save money and not overeat. We were exhausted and wet but didn’t care. We jumped in the car wet shoes, wet cloths and all, the rainforest portion of our expedition was over and we were headed towards the beaches on the Pacific Ocean side of Costa Rica.
The Road To Guanacaste
After crossing the bridge and driving for another hour or so we arrived in Playa Negra. We arrived just in time to see a beautiful sunset on the Pacific side of the country. The beach was gorgeous, the sand was black and the waves were huge, Playa Negra is a Surfers Beach. We jumped out of the car and walked along the beach for a few minutes to enjoy the sunset.
Overwhelmed with the beauty of the beach we watched the sun disappear into the dark background. However we shouldn’t have done that. We thought our room was just down the road but it wasn’t. After driving around in the darkness for a few an hour we realized we were lost again. We eventually parked the car and called our AirBnB Host, Johnny Manana. He found us with his ATV in the middle of the forest and took us to our Tree House in the Jungle. Once at the tree house we loved it, bare essentials. Complete opposite of what we were used to with the high end resorts of Mexico and Vegas. I guess it was the simplicity that we appreciated. If we were going to quit our jobs and live like locals, then we needed to practice now with something like this.
Later that evening, we drove to La Vida Buena (The Good Life), which was a local pizza spot down the road from our tree house. We had a pizza, mojitos and tequila sunrises and made a few videos on Instagram. After dinner we headed back to the tree house in the dark, there are few street lights in Costa Rica and no street signs and of course, we got lost again driving back to the room, this time it only took 30 minutes to drive to our Tree House which was 2 minutes away from the restaurant. We promised not to drive at night ever again….broke that promise the next night….lol, Of course.